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Retreat to victory?: confederate strategy reconsidered

Retreat to victory?: confederate strategy reconsidered

Tanner, Robert G

Did Confederate armies attack too often for their own good? Was the relentless, sometimes costly effort to preserve territory a blunder? Why great battles in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and Tennessee rather than well-laid ambushes in Alabama's sandhills or the pine forests of the Carolinas? These questions about Confederate strategy have dogged historians since Appomattox. Many have come to believe that the South might have won the Civil War if it had only avoided head-on battles, conducted an aggressive guerrilla campaign, and maneuvered across wide swaths of territory to exhaust the Union's willingness to continue the war. Retreat to Victory? Confederate Strategy Reconsidered challenges this widely held theory. Robert G. Tanner argues that deep retreats and battle avoidance (the strategy of maneuver rather than combat) were not available to Southern leaders in planning their wartime strategy. The South fought as it did for valid reasons, according to Tanner, and this book examines these reasons in detail, including the South's need to protect its slave-based economy, to establish a state's rights-oriented government, and to win independence from the Union. Tanner uses Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz's classic On War as a means for evaluating Confederate actions. On War provides a single measure for testing claims that the South could have prevailed by avoiding battles and forcing the Union to hold large tracts of land. Provocative and carefully researched, Retreat to Victory offers a fresh perspective on Confederate strategy and makes an important contribution to the field that no serious student of American history will want to miss

Hardback, Book. English.
Published Wilmington,DE: Scholarly Resources, 2001

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Details

Statement of responsibility: Robert G. Tanner
ISBN: 0842028811, 084202882X, 9780842028813, 9780842028820
Note: Includes bibliographical references (p. 149-154) and index.
Physical Description: xxiii,162p : maps ; 23 cm.
Series: American crisis series ; no. 2
Subject: Confederate States of America Politics and government.; Confederate States of America. Army History.; Confederate States of America Military policy.; Strategy History 19th century.; Confederate States of America Defenses.; United States History Civil War, 1861-1865 Campaigns.

Contents

  1. Confederate Strategy: An Overview
  2. Confederate Geography
  3. Rebel Armies on the March
  4. On Clausewitz
  5. Slavery and Confederate Strategy
  6. Independence and Confederate Strategy
  7. No Place to Hide

Author note

Robert G. Tanner practices law in Atlanta, Georgia. He has studied and lectured on the Civil War for more than twenty-five years.

Description

Did Confederate armies attack too often for their own good? Was the relentless, sometimes costly effort to preserve territory a blunder? Why great battles in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and Tennessee rather than well-laid ambushes in Alabama's sandhills or the pine forests of the Carolinas? These questions about Confederate strategy have dogged historians since Appomattox. Many have come to believe that the South might have won the Civil War if it had only avoided head-on battles, conducted an aggressive guerrilla campaign, and maneuvered across wide swaths of territory to exhaust the Union's willingness to continue the war. Retreat to Victory? Confederate Strategy Reconsidered challenges this widely held theory. Robert G. Tanner argues that deep retreats and battle avoidance (the strategy of maneuver rather than combat) were not available to Southern leaders in planning their wartime strategy. The South fought as it did for valid reasons, according to Tanner, and this book examines these reasons in detail, including the South's need to protect its slave-based economy, to establish a state's rights-oriented government, and to win independence from the Union. Tanner uses Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz's classic On War as a means for evaluating Confederate actions. On War provides a single measure for testing claims that the South could have prevailed by avoiding battles and forcing the Union to hold large tracts of land. Provocative and carefully researched, Retreat to Victory offers a fresh perspective on Confederate strategy and makes an important contribution to the field that no serious student of American history will want to miss.

Reviews

Persuasive and compelling. A fascinating examination of Confederate strategy that makes an important contribution to an overall understanding of the Civil War.
The Philadelphia Inquirer||Robert G. Tanner's latest foray into the often contentious arena of Civil War publishing will generate a firestorm of controversy.
North and South||A fascinating insight and analysis of Confederate strategy.
Abilene Reporter-News (Texas)||A short, readable, interesting book.
Civil War Times||A number of historians have insisted the confederacy should have pursued a defensive strategy that would have avoided costly set-piece battles and conserved limited Southern manpower. In Retreat to Victory? Robert Tanner offers a compelling rejoinder to such arguments, assessing Confederate strategic options with an eye toward military, political, geographic, economic, and social factors. Anyone interested in how the Confederacy fought its war should consult this book.||Retreat to Victory is a must-read for anyone interested in investigating why the South lost the Civil War.
America's Civil War||No one fascinated by the American Civil War or by military strategy in general should miss this persuasively and even elegantly argued book.||This concise book is impressive....For those interested in Civil War (especially southern) military strategy, this is a valuable book that students and teachers alike will find a nice addition to the classroom.
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